A Roman Road to Arthur’s Pike

Most people climb Arthur’s Pike from Howtown by Ullswater, but there is a longer and more interesting route from the village of Askham, incorporating part of the High Street Roman road.

On Askham Fell (c) John Bainbridge 2015

On Askham Fell (c) John Bainbridge 2015

It was a bright day as we left the village, though black clouds glowered over distant Blecathra. We followed the bridleway up from Askham to the small woodland of Riggingleys Top, from where there are considerable views over the northern Lake District.

A good and broad track across the open moorland of Askham Fell brought us to the Bronze Age stone circle called The Cockpit – very impressive in its location on a broad plain of hillside. Seventy-five stones in all, though some are fallen or partially buried.

The Cockpit on Askham Fell (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The Cockpit on Askham Fell (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Now High Street is a Roman Road linking the Eden Valley to the Roman fort at Ambleside. As anyone who’s climbed the mountain named after will know there is a distinctive track. But on Askham Fell it is – as the OS map suggests – very much a “Course of”.  And some of it a bit marshy too.

A heavy shower swept in from the west as we climbed the hill, but it didn’t last long and heralded a day of clear views and bright sunshine.

It is not easy to find the start and the path following its line is very indistinct in its early stages as it climbs gently south of Brown Rigg. But it’s worth persevering with because as it gains height and leaves the marshy ground behind it becomes much clearer.

High Street Roman Road (c) John Bainbridge 2015

High Street Roman Road (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Soon we were level with Arthur’s Pike, a very easy Wainwright, but we found it best not to take a direct line. Continuing South West for a half mile, and soon after passing a boundary stone, High Street comes close to the path connecting the Pike with its neighbour Loadpot Hill. Cut across the heather here and head north to Arthur’s Pike itself.

Arthur's Pike (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Arthur’s Pike (c) John Bainbridge 2015

A modest Wainwright summit and by no means a pike in reality it is though a superb viewpoint, not only over the waters of Ullswater, but of many of the mountains of northern Lakeland.

Ullswater from near Arthur's Pike (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Ullswater from near Arthur’s Pike (c) John Bainbridge 2015

A good track leads down to the Aik Beck where there is a charming little waterfall, an ideal place for a picnic.

Then a return back across Askham Fell and down to the village itself. Grand views now over the Eden Valley and the north Pennines, Cross Fell glowering under dark clouds in the distance.

A very good walk and the Askham antiquities deserve a day of exploration all on their own.


2 thoughts on “A Roman Road to Arthur’s Pike

  1. That’s a great route. I’ve been planning on doing the whole of the High Street route for years now (and when I’ve finished my Scottish stuff I’ll do it) but was always confused about the Penrith end. That looks a good route – I’ll look it up on the map. Love your moody photos, especially the first one with the broody clouds and the one of the track through the silvery-looking grass!


  2. We only went up as far as Arthur, but it looks a particularly easy way up on to the whole complex of mountains. Parking in Askham village hall car par is just a quid for all day. John B. It was a bit wet but of course we’ve had an awful lot of rain.


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